In what was thought to be a verdict of far reaching consequence, back in 1997, the Supreme Court of India had upheld the verdict of the Kerala high court which said that bandhs are illegal and violate the Indian constitution. It was of the view, just like the bench in the Kerala High Court, that bandhs basically “interfere with the exercise of the fundamental freedoms of (other) citizens” while causing economical loss to the nation. If you are interested, you can read the judgment, here.
There was more to come. In 2002, hartals were declared illegal by the Supreme Court of India. In 2004, Shiv Sena was asked to pay a fine for organizing a bandh protesting the Bombay blasts. In 2004 the Calcutta High Court, in 2006 the Kerala High Court and in 2007 the Supreme Court again, have reiterated the verdict that these bandhs are illegal and not constitutional.
Yet, our political parties continue to organize bandhs from time to time. Today being the latest one. It is 9 am as I write this and Shiv Sena has already pelted stones to buses in Mumbai. 84 flights from Mumbai alone stand canceled. Calcutta airport is shut down. Bangalore is shut down. Shiv Sainiks are beating the auto drivers in the streets of Mumbai.
And these are the people who aspire to lead us.
To think that all this has been done to protest against the fuel price hike just does not add up. You do not need to be an economist to figure out that if the demands exceeds the supply, the price will rise. So, it is not congress that is responsible for the price increase in Petrol but the overall demand supply equation. The concept comes into play regardless of the party in power. But from where I see, our politicians cannot be made to understand this.
Thousands of crores of rupees are lost when a bandh like this cripples the country. Buses are stoned, rail coaches are torched. There is no regard for the law. These political figures who take constitutional oaths should be ashamed of themselves.
This is an exploitation of democracy. Its like raping the idea of it. And you know whats worse? These people could be leading us tomorrow.
And that reminds me of something. A few years ago, a journalist friend of mine (a reader of this blog) who is not from India asked me a question which meant something like- In India, do you vote and hope for a better leadership or do you vote for the less worse political party. The question came out of the blue but the answer was clear.
And this is the exact problem with our Democracy. Or whatever it is anyway.